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There’s been a lot of news lately about the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s apparent disinterest in enforcing state law and punishing wrongdoers. In December, State Auditor Beth Wood released a report showing the DOA failed to issue up to $2.5 million in fines for violations related to handling of propane, collecting instead only $4,100.  

Now the DOA has done it again. Rather than throw the book at Hoke County turkey plant officials responsible for animal cruelty, DOA employee Sarah Jean Mason tipped off the veterinarian at the plant that an inspection was imminent.  After Dr. Mason pled guilty to giving confidential information during a criminal investigation and giving false statements to the Hoke County Sheriff’s Department, the DOA suspended her for two weeks.

It’s time our state agencies started taking enforcement seriously. The NC Department of Labor has a similar history of ignoring repeat violators and reducing fines when it comes to enforcing laws that protect some of our most vulnerable workers.  As Wood’s report said, “[the] expectation of voluntary compliance with respect to repairs or corrective action has been ineffective.”